This week, there’s a focus on New Mexico’s Attorney General Hector Balderas and the utilization of privately funded legal fellows in his office. An out-of-state billionaire finances these fellows to aid in litigation and advocate for “clean energy, climate, and environmental laws and policies” within the state.
As per the statement, Climate Litigation Watch, a project operated by the public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C., will broadcast advertisements on radio, television, and various online platforms.
The advertisement starts with a voiceover stating, “Attorney General Hector Balderas has allowed billionaire Michael Bloomberg to enlist a special prosecutor for our state’s primary law enforcement agency, advancing Mr. Bloomberg’s extreme environmental goals.”
The advertisement mentions the establishment of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center (SEEIC) at New York University Law School in August 2017, funded by a $6 million grant from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Hayes informed the Post that the funds would support not just litigation against the federal government but also enforcement efforts at the state level.
The state-level initiatives aim to assist “state attorneys general in defending and advancing clean energy, climate, and environmental laws and policies.” This support would be provided through special assistant attorneys general stationed in the respective state attorneys’ offices. However, their salaries and benefits would be covered by SEEIC.
According to Hayes, up to 15 legal fellows from New Mexico to New York have been placed in attorney general offices throughout the United States.
The ad concludes by urging viewers to sign the petition and call on their elected representatives, emphasizing that law enforcement should not be subject to sale.
According to emails disclosed by Horner on October 17, 2017, Hayes sent an email to Tania Maestas, Chief Deputy Attorney General for Civil Affairs and Operations, and Victoria Bransford, Executive Assistant to the New Mexico Attorney General, expressing regret for the necessity of making this announcement to facilitate the recruitment of attorneys who will fill these positions in your office.
Hayes reassured them that the offer would receive minimal attention within the state, stating that “[t]he announcement will have limited distribution, and we will not contact any press outlets within your state.”
Horner stated that Hayes’ pledge to keep the announcement confidential “betrayed the trust” of New Mexico’s citizens and circumvented transparency.
Horner asserted that downplaying this unique arrangement, alongside the New Mexico Attorney General’s office’s bold commitment to politicize its operations, demonstrates an acknowledgment that permitting activist donors to finance policy development and implementation within the Attorney General’s office undermines the trust of New Mexico’s citizens. Horner argued that publicizing this arrangement could potentially trigger public or legislative scrutiny. Additionally, he contended that this situation underscores the need for oversight within the Attorney General’s Office.